Distinguished Student Leader Program

The National Student Council (NatStuCo) Distinguished Student Leader Program is a rigorous and challenging skill- and knowledge-based recognition program created to identify outstanding individual student council leaders in high schools. Students who earn the NatStuCo Distinguished Student Leader designation have demonstrated exemplary leadership abilities.

In seeking recognition, students will complete a variety of tasks focused on building leadership knowledge and improving skills. Students will keep a record of activities and show they’ve met the award criteria by creating a personal leadership portfolio. This portfolio will also serve as a valuable record of their achievements and commitment as a leader—something they may refer to often when they’re applying for college and scholarships.

The activities involved while seeking the designation will vary somewhat by each individual. There is no specific timeline for completing the portfolio, and some applicants may work to complete theirs in a single semester while others use a full school year or longer.

Learn how to build your portfolio


Applying for the Distinguished Student Leader Designation

After completing their portfolios, students can apply for the Distinguished Student Leader designation. Students may submit their applications at any time during the year prior to their high school graduation. In order to apply:

  • Students must create a student account and be verified by their NatStuCo adviser.*
  • Student councils must have an active NatStuCo membership.
  • Student council advisers must sign-off on student completion of required activities and satisfactory review of the student’s personal leadership portfolio. The adviser will be asked to provide a validation before the student can submit their application. Portfolio hard copies are no longer submitted to NatStuCo directly.
  • During the application process, students will be asked to share information about their school, student council, and personal leadership roles, experiences, and recognitions.
  • During the application process, students will be asked to submit their Leadership Philosophy Essay as part of the application, as well as respond to a few open-ended questions relating to their “leadership personality.”
  • Once an application is submitted, is takes the national office approximately three weeks to review and render its decision. Those interested in citing their Distinguished Student Leader designation on college and scholarship applications should take that timeframe into consideration.

*National Honor Society members who already have NASSP student accounts do not need to create new accounts, and can also add NatStuCo membership to their student account by e-mailing NatStuCo@NatStuCo.org. Student leaders who are members of other organizations in schools with active National Student Council membership are also eligible to apply.

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